The new National Standards of Excellence for Headteachers

20 January, 2015



They are here!  The new National Standards of Excellence for Headteachers have been officially released by the DfE.

The new guidance replaces the 2004 National Headteacher Standards and are relevant to all headteacher roles, irrespective of setting or length of service.  They are also intended to be a helpful tool for those responsible for governance

The DfE stress that the National Standards of Excellence for Headteachers are different from The Teacher Standards in that they are non-mandatory.  They are intended as “guidance to underpin best practice” and are “to be interpreted in the context of each individual headteacher and school”.

However, they do outline “key characteristics expected of the nation’s headteachers.”

So what’s in them?

The new standards fall into 4 “domains”:

  • Qualities and knowledge
  • Pupils and Staff
  • Systems and processes
  • The self-improving school system

Within each domain there are 6 key points which explain what is expected of headteachers

This differs from the 2004 set which embodied six areas:

  1. Shaping the Future
  2. Leading Learning and Teaching
  3. Developing Self and Working with Others
  4. Managing the Organisation
  5. Securing Accountability
  6. Strengthening Community

The overriding theme of the new standards hasn’t change:  raising standards for all in the pursuit of excellence.  Headteachers should inspire, challenge, motivate and empower others to carry the vision of the school forward.

Stand out statements include:

  • Sustain wide, current knowledge and understanding of education and school systems locally, nationally and globally, and pursue continuous professional development
  • Establish an educational culture of ‘open classrooms’ as a basis for sharing best practice within and between schools, drawing on and conducting relevant research and robust data analysis
  • Identify emerging talents, coaching current and aspiring leaders in a climate where excellence is the standard, leading to clear succession planning
  • Establish rigorous, fair and transparent systems and measures for managing the performance of all staff, addressing any under-performance, supporting staff to improve and valuing excellent practice
  • Exercise strategic, curriculum-led financial planning to ensure the equitable deployment of budgets and resources, in the best interests of pupils’ achievements and the school’s sustainability
  • Create outward-facing schools which work with other schools and organisations – in a climate of mutual challenge – to champion best practice and secure excellent achievements for all pupils
  • Model entrepreneurial and innovative approaches to school improvement, leadership and governance, confident of the vital contribution of internal and external accountability


If you want more information on what these new standards mean in practice look no further.

Dame Dana Ross-Warwzynski, the Chairwoman of the National Headteacher Standards Review Group will be providing inside information on the new standards at our New Headteacher Standards Conference in March.

For more information click here

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